Luke 9:23 - Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Many were called, but few made the choice to follow. People thought it would be easy and fun. If they followed Jesus they would see all kinds of miracles and hear amazing things. It would be mind blowing and exciting, or so it seemed. Jesus warned them otherwise. It is definitely fun and exciting to follow Him, but it goes deeper than that. Jesus warned that it would not be easy, it fact it would be quite the opposite. They wanted to follow Him because it would make them feel good, but Jesus said, “You must deny yourself.”
He was telling them that if they followed Him it would not be an easy road. This scared many away, but those who remained were not there for just an emotional high. Today we have the same choice to make. We can deny ourselves and follow Jesus or we can live for ourselves. Following Jesus has many rewards, but it also has many sacrifices. We were designed to live as He lived and reflect the glory of God, but there will be trials.
If we follow we must first deny our own wants and needs and put His life ahead of ours. It sounds drastic, “Take up your cross,” but Jesus is not asking anything that He didn’t already do for us. He lived a selfless life and went to the cross for you and me. Jesus denied His place next to God in heaven and experienced separation from Him so that He could rescue us. Now He asks us to live that same selfless life, so that we can bring others to know Him.